Foreign tourist arrivals to Cambodia went up more than 12 percent in the first quarter of 2017, as the country ramped up efforts to improve services and attractions for visitors. A total of 1.5 million foreign tourists visited from January to March, up 12 percent compared with the same period in 2016.
Asian tourists made up the majority of visitors, while travellers from Europe and the United States were among the least frequent. China came out top, with 273,000 tourists, followed by Vietnam with 203,000 and South Korea with 127,742.
Lor Thoura, director of the Tourism Ministry’s marketing department, said Cambodia has been working hard to promote itself as a tourist destination. “The ministry has been promoting Cambodia at festivals within the country and also at tourism fairs abroad,” he said.
Thoura added that Asian tourists make up the bulk of arrivals because of geographic proximity. “We promote Cambodia within the region and further afield,” he said. “Tourists from China, South Korea, Vietnam and Thailand find it easy to get here because of direct flights and border crossings. But for those from further away, travelling here is more difficult, so we are less of a priority destination.”
Industry experts said the increase in tourists was thanks to improved flight connections and better quality services and attractions.
Ho Vandy, secretary-general of the Cambodian National Tourism Alliance, said the government’s open sky policy and initiatives to attract foreign investment had helped draw more visitors to the country, while tourism offerings are constantly being upgraded.
“Besides connecting flights to other countries in the region, new foreign investment has helped the tourism sector to grow, as have developments in hotels, restaurants, tour agencies and transport companies,” said Vandy.
The government has set a target to attract up to 7 million tourist arrivals by 2020, of which 2 million are expected to be Chinese.